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Garden Delights

A selection of thoughts and ramblings about life in the garden.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Swallowtail on purple coneflower. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Humble Coneflower

I call it humble, but it's really a truly lovely and almost indestructible plant.

Be it purple or yellow or some shade inbetween, it blooms for what seems like forever. And afterwards it leaves behind a huge bristly cone, filled with seeds that the birds love. You have to be quick if you want to beat the birds to the seeds.

While there are many designer varieties out there, mine are the standard wildflower variety. This means mine vary in shape and size and tend to pop up here and there if they feel like it.

And they pop up in the most inhospitable places.

They wander around the front flower bed under a mature maple tree where anything else has to fight to survive.

The grow under the overhang of my tri-level house where nothing else wants to grow.

They grow in shade.

They grow in sun.

They grow in rock hard clay.

Sometimes I think they'll grow in water too. They seem to grow just about any place else.

It's fun to watch the cones get big too. They start out a flat flower, but at the flowers get pollenated the seeds start to grow. As the seeds grow, the center of the flower turns into that 'cone' that gives it it's name. The purple ones are spiny. I've been known to use a pliers to get the seeds out.

Birds, bees and butterflies love them.

I think I do too.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bee climbing on balsam. Posted by Picasa

I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes.....

Well...just spiders.

In spite of that fact, I am fascinated by their behavior. Today, I spent some time watching a rather large jumping spider (I don't think they build webs) on the prowl.

This was most interesting.

I spotted it climbing up the stalk of a rather tall false sunflower. It scrabbled it's way up to the bottom of the bright yellow triple sunflower bloom and disappeared. But not for long. It then clawed it's way to the top of the bloom and looked around for a minute. Nothing was there.

So it moved on.

This was most interesting.

I was wondering what it would do when it got to the top of it's little mountain. Look for another mountain to climb was the answer. It jumped to the nearest stalk and started scrambling up. It was doing a real good impression of a rock climber, minus all the ropes and gear. It got to the top, looked around, waited a bit, then moved on.

Next stalk, same procedure.

I never did get to see it make a kill. I got distracted by a butterfly.

I sound a bit like I've got attention deficit disorder, don't I?

The butterfly must have had it's own secret game plan for the day. It did a whole lot of flitting, but no eating. I have flowers galore in my garden, but it just seemed to flit about mindlessly, on some secret scavenger hunt. I never saw it find what it was looking for.

Creatures of the garden are fun to watch. All of them put on quite the show if you take the time to get good seating. Some I only hear.

Like this new bird. I don't know what it is for sure, but it chirps all day long. The sound reminds me of an angry hummingbird, but I've never heard one that loud before. Try as I might, I can't seem to catch a glimpse of it. I just hear the constant chirping.

Tomorrow, I think I'll watch the bumble bees.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Raspberries in my garden. Posted by Picasa

Snacks in the Garden

Believe it or not, I am capable of growing a few snacks in the garden.

True, I did say I've had terrible luck with the vegetables. But I can grow a bit of fruit.
Well, if tomatoes are considered a fruit.

I believe the jury is still out on the tomato.

I, myself, consider a fresh tomato a fruit. I eat it with sugar on it. I picked up that habit from my father. While I do use it as a vegetable, fresh out of the garden I consider it a fruit. Old habits die hard.

But I don't consider tomatoes a snack.

When I snack, I munch on raspberries.

This year, I actually have enough to almost consider it a crop.
There's a story behind the poor raspberry plants in my yard.
Long ago, when I first moved here, my sister brought me some raspberry plants from her own patch up in Wisconsin. I staked out a great spot in the back yard up against the fence, planted them, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I wouldn't have had to wait so long (nine years, to be exact) if my yard didn't flood.
The first patch was just about ready to really take off when the yard had the big summer flood. The poor plants stood in water for over a week and it almost killed them all. I think I managed to rescue four scraggly plants and moved them to a raised bed for protection.

And then I waited.

The waiting has finally paid off. I've been munching and picking for two weeks now. One day I actually had a cereal bowl full of raspberries.

I was so proud.

Now I just have to tame them at bit and I'll be in business.
Raspberries like to wander.
But I learned a trick the other day. My neighbor told me an old farmer's trick to use to keep them in nice neat rows. He told me to bury an old rusty chain or anything that will rust in the beds where you want them to grow. Apparently the plants are attracted to the rust.

Now I just have to go hunt down some old rusty items.

I never thought I'd go looking for rust.

Monday, July 04, 2005

A close up of the fated Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. A lovely little pink genetic experiment. Posted by Picasa

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern...are dead!

Ah! The delightful daylily! A very beautiful flower in the garden. And so many varieties. This is because it is so terribly easy to perform genetic experiments on.
That translates to: anyone can cross breed them in their own backyard to create new varieties.
I fell into that trap.
(Which is why I have been missing of late.)
I decided, in a moment of weakness, to see what I could come up with by breeding the daylilies in my garden.
I seem to have momentarily forgotten that my yard, while large, isn't that large. For as acorns become mighty oaks, so daylily seeds become massive clumps of daylilies.
My experiment has been progressing well. I have had one hundred and fourty six genetic experiments bloom for me so far this season. Just think. One hundred and fourty six totally new daylily plants. And more yet to bloom. That's a lot of daylilies.
To be sure, none of mine are as frilly and fluffy as some of the modern hybrids, but most are worthy of an "Oh. That's lovely!" They will truly be hard to part with.
So...I have been out every day taking photos and measurements and giving them all names. I could just give them all numbers, but numbers would be impossible to remember if I loose their tags. So I name them.
Well, the other day I had to leave to go to a wedding. I hurriedly took photos in the morning, hoping I would be able to figure out which was which a day later when I returned.
Boy, was that a mistake.
When I returned, I merrily viewed the photos, gave them all names, then tried to go label them all.
This did not go well.
One, which I decided to name Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, was nowhere to be found. I looked high and low, but I could not find them...it. For daylily flowers last just a day. Hence the name day lily. While they have many flowers, each lasts only a day, and there could be days in between blooms.
They simply could not be found.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.

If you are very truly bored to tears and would like to waste countless hours of your time, check out my mass of genetic experiments go to http://davesgarden.com/journal/j/vbc/naturepatch/10445/ More will be added as they bloom.